Black with Kids: Not Like Everyone Else

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By  Cheryl Kirk

I am a mother of three black children, two are boys who are eleven and eighteen. Along with all the fears that all mothers have for their children of getting in a car wreck or breaking a bone on the playground, I also fear racial profiling and how life could end for my sons. So on top of teaching manners, there are other important lessons I have to teach my black boys:  take your hood off, keep your hands out of your pocket, if you are pulled over keep your hands in your in the air until told otherwise; the list goes on. 

Recently, my children and a few of their friends participated in a long school tradition, a senior parade. They enlisted me to drive a friend’s truck for their “Back to the 90’s”  float. Once the float was all decorated, the girls opened the back and and jumped in and my son and his friend both stood on the running board on either side of the truck as I drove around to get in the line with all of the other creative floats, some with pools in the back of pick up trucks and a ping pong table just to name a few. 

When I was pulling around to get in line, a police officer on the main street made a u-turn,  pulled onto the school’s campus and walked up to our truck. He appeared to be getting ready to ask the boys for ID. At the same time, the school’s principals were walking up and telling me where to pull in. It wasn't until that moment that the cop saw the parade of floats with teens on the back of pickup trucks, and trailers with BBQ grills, etc. They were in plain view from the street, but my children’s school is predominantly caucasian and my children and their friends were the only black seniors who chose to participate in senior parade. Although they were doing exactly what their classmates were doing, they drew attention that their caucasian classmates did not. 

This situation will inevitably happen again for these young men. Next time, they will be away at college and I pray they remember all the lessons they’ve been taught about dealing with law enforcement, but even then will it be enough to keep they alive? Watching the video police released by Milwaukee police of Sterling Brown’s arrest was heart breaking. I see my eighteen year old in him, making careless mistakes. I think we all agree that he deserved the ticket he received. He shouldn’t have parked illegally. What he didn’t deserve was to be treated so horrifically for a minor offense. 

Parents of black children don’t want special treatment for our children; we just want the same treatment as our caucasian counterparts.